Long Island Aquinas Center Profile

Curley Family with Congressman Lee Zeldin, visit to Schola Alta, Fall 2015.

About seven and half years ago, Long Island homeschool mom Joanne Curley was trying to figure out how to challenge her oldest of three children, who was just about to hit high school (her other two children, another son and a daughter, are now 16 and 14). She felt like he needed more challenge, but her other parameters were that it had to be Catholic, and she wanted a classical approach.

At 10:30 p.m. one night, she prayed and sat down to research classical home high school programs. She hit upon Aquinas Learning and thought she’d just give Rosario Reilly a call. Workhorse that she is,

Rosario picked up the call! Joanne learned she would need to start a center to implement Aquinas Learning but felt “no

Long Island first year, Prima ll making Icons

qualms” doing just that. In her past career, she had opened restaurant chains; she now felt that experience empowered her to jumpstart a new Aquinas center. Joanne visited Virginia about two weeks later for a training day—and the Long Island Center was founded in 2011, is now seven years old, and averages about 40-50 students a year.

Asked about her learning experiences along the way, Joanne says it has been filled with both bumps (things like last minute space changes) and good things (a great group of mentors who have often stayed for as many as four-, five- and six-year stints), but “everything has always worked out” and she attributes that in a large part due to the faith-filled supporting community of parents who

Schola Alta l/ll with a skit on fallacies for showcase 2016.

step up when needed.

Her favorite memories over her years as director of the Long Island Center are the finale end-of-year showcases, where mentors “see the work of the students come forth,” the fieldtrips the groups get to experience together, and the beginning and end-of-year group masses the Center orchestrates.

Asked if she has words of advice to pass on, Joanne put on her three Aquinas Learning hats and offered the following:

“As a Director, focus on starting the day with prayer and keep prayer consistent, and be ready to be flexible at the Center level to meet changing family needs and other fluctuations. Each year has its own flavor—the needs and dynamics change. As a Mentor, be prepared yourself! And as a Mom (especially of high-school aged children), don’t leave it to assumption that all the work is being done—you need to be there for guidance, while at the same time letting out the rope so your student can experience the drive they will need on their own in college.”

The Long Island Center has graduated four seniors, all in 2015. Joanne’s eldest son Luke was in this group. Graduates currently attend the honors program at Ave Maria University in Florida, Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and two attend Thomas More College in New Hampshire.

 

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